UPCOMING EVENT: TACKLE WAREHOUSE PRO CIRCUIT - 2020 - Lake Erie

Pickett pulls away with 22-12 in Stren Series

Pickett pulls away with 22-12 in Stren Series
Lloyd Pickett of Bartlett, Tenn., took a dominating lead in the Stren Series on Lake Wheeler after day one with a 22-pound, 12-ounce catch.

DECATUR, Ala. - It took muscles - or rather mussels - to strong-arm your way into the lead at the Stren Series Southeast Division event on Wheeler Lake today.

While small fish abound on Wheeler everywhere right now, there seems to be a strong correlation between underwater mussel beds and groups of bigger bass.

Several pros atop the leaderboard mentioned mussel beds as a primary component to their patterns in reeling in the better quality bass. As more evidence that those leading pros are around the best groups of bass on the lake, the co-anglers of two of the tournament leaders scored big sacks as well while sharing mussel beds with their pros.

Lloyd Pickett of Bartlett, Tenn., took a dominating lead in the event after day one with a 22-pound, 12-ounce catch. Plus, his co-angler snared the leading co-angler catch of 17 pounds, 7 ounces from Pickett's back deck. That's nearly 40 pounds of bass from one boat - not too shabby for Wheeler Lake.

Pickett fished flats adjacent to deep water, featuring stumps and mussel beds.

"It's no secret: The shell beds are the key here," Pickett said. "The shad are using those shell beds right now, and during practice I scouted shell beds, looking for the biggest shad I could find. The bigger the shad, the bigger the bass. If I could find those big 5- or 6-inch shad up on a shell bed, there would be 4- and 5-pound bass eating them up."

Pickett noted that he found about 10 shell beds featuring the giant shad, but only fished one of those places today. He had a 17-pound limit early, but kept culling up on purpose.

"Plenty of boats saw me on that spot, so we went ahead and burned them up pretty good," Pickett added. "I'm a late boat draw tomorrow, and I'm sure the chances of getting back on that spot will be slim. I'm still going to try to get on it, but hopefully some of my other shell bars will produce if I can't get to it."

Kendrick second Pro Jay Kendrick of Grant, Ala., weighed in a limit for 17 pounds, 11 ounces to nab the second place spot after day one.

Jay Kendrick of Grant, Ala., weighed in a limit for 17 pounds, 11 ounces to nab the second-place spot after day one.

Kendrick's catch included the Folgers Big Bass in the Pro Division, weighing in at 6 pounds, 2 ounces.

Similarly, Kendrick is focusing on shell beds in a "nondescript" depth.

"Where I'm fishing is kind of in the obscure water between shallow and deep," Kendrick explained. "Two weeks ago these fish were up shallow. And there are a lot of guys way out deep waiting on these fish to get out there. But I'm somewhere in between the bank and the river on some nondescript places where the fish set up before they make their last move to deep water."

Johnson third
Pro James Johnson of Hartselle, Ala., is in third place after day one with a limit weighing 16 pounds, 3 ounces.
James Johnson of Hartselle, Ala., is in third place after day one with a limit weighing 16 pounds, 3 ounces. Coincidentally, Johnson helped put his co-angler in second place with a limit also weighing 16 pounds, 3 ounces.

Johnson knows a thing or two about what lies on the bottom of Wheeler Lake as he used to dive for mussels commercially. Consequently, he knows where quite a few of Wheeler's best underwater shell beds are located.

Similar to Pickett's description, Johnson noted that some of the lake's giant gizzard shad are spawning on these shell beds right now.

"Several of the bigger bass we caught this morning had giant gizzards down their throat," Johnson said. "My co-angler caught a bass that spit up a shad that was no less than 10 inches long - I couldn't believe it."

Hicks fourth

Derek Hicks of Rocky Face, Ga., holds down the fourth-place spot with a limit weighing 14 pounds, 9 Pro Derek Hicks of Rocky Face, Ga., holds down the fourth place spot with a limit weighing 14 pounds, 9 ounces.ounces.

Hicks started the day by fishing deep mussel beds with a big worm. Once he secured a decent limit, he moved way up the river to pitch lay-downs on the main river, which produced a bonus 5-pound kicker.

"I've only got three good deep places," Hicks said. "I got a 4-pounder off one of those spots this morning; then by 11 o'clock I put all the deep stuff up, got out my flipping stick and went hunting a big fish. It worked out well because I caught a 5-pounder with about 10 minutes left in the day by flipping lay-downs."

Buie fifth
Greg Buie of Athens, Ala., rounds out the top five pros with a five bass limit weighing 14 pounds, 5 ounces.
Greg Buie of Athens, Ala., rounds out the top five pros with a five-bass limit weighing 14 pounds, 5 ounces.

"I'm just shallow-water junk-fishing," Buie said. "I'm up shallow, covering as much water as possible, getting a lot of bites and trying to cull up as much as possible."

Rest of the best

Rounding out the top 10 pros in the Stren Series event on Wheeler Lake after day one:

6th: Robert Boyd of Russellville, Ala., five bass, 14-1
7th: Brian Merriman of Falkville, Ala., five bass, 14-0
8th: Arch Cornett of Huntsville, Ala., five bass, 13-15
9th: Koby Kreiger of Okeechobee, Fla., five bass, 13-12
10th: Ronnie Watts of Florence, S.C., five bass, 13-3

Tims leads co-anglers

Brian Tims of Vincent, Ala., leads the Co-angler Division of the Stren Series event on Wheeler Lake with a limit weighing 17 pounds, 7 ounces.

Tims' top catch was anchored by the Folgers Big Bass in the Co-angler Division on day one, weighing in Brian Tims of Vincent, Ala., leads the Co-angler Division of the Stren Series event on Wheeler Lake with a limit weighing 17 pounds after day one.at exactly 5 pounds.

Tims fished with tournament pro leader Lloyd Pickett and got to sample one of his red-hot shell beds today.

"It was unbelievable," Tims said of fishing with Pickett. "It couldn't get any better than this. We caught tons of fish. I'd give anything to fish with him again tomorrow."

Judkins second

Dallas Judkins of Lawrenceburg, Tenn., is in second place in the Co-angler Division with a five-bass limit weighing 16 pounds, 13 ounces.

Judkins fished with third-place pro James Johnson and also relied on a shell-bar pattern to accumulate his weight.

"It was an awesome day," Judkins said. "We caught a huge number of fish, probably 30 or 35 apiece. He's dialed in; I'd like to draw him again tomorrow"

Rest of the best

Chad Caldwell of Hampton Cove, Ala., is in third place in the Co-angler Division with a five-bass limit weighing 11 pounds, 11 ounces.

Jerry Hayden of Charlotte, N.C., is in fourth place with five bass for 11 pounds, 6 ounces.

Paul Kotula of Raleigh, N.C., rounds out the top five in the Co-angler Division with a limit worth 11 pounds, 1 ounce. .Dallas Judkins of Lawrenceburg, Tenn., is in second place in the Co-angler Division with a five-bass limit weighing 16 pounds, 13 ounces.

Rounding out the top 10 co-anglers in the Stren Series event on Wheeler Lake after day one:

6th: John Skipper of Dothan, Ala., five bass, 10-14
7th: Robert Wood of Jupiter, Fla., five bass, 10-13
8th: Anthony McBay of Athens, Ala., five bass, 10-11
9th: Bradwell Sampey of Savannah, Ga., five bass, 10-9
10th: Chris Mynatt of Mascot, Tenn., five bass, 10-8

Day two of the Stren Series Southeast Division event on Wheeler Lake will begin at 6:30 a.m. on Friday at Ingalls Harbor in Decatur.

Tags: rob-newell  headline-story  2009-06-04-wheeler-lake 

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